There were four wars with the Timpanogos in Utah; the Fort Utah War 1848-49, Walker War 1853, Tintic War 1856, and the Black Hawk War 1865.
Over a 21 year period of time these wars would result in more than 150 bloody confrontations with Mormon colonists who were recent converts to the LDS Church and emigrated to North America from England, Ireland, Wales, and Denmark, to name a few. Blinded by their own inculturation, Mormons were ignorant and judgemental of the ancient cultural life-ways of the aboriginal inhabitants in North America. With a Book of Mormon in one hand, and a gun in the other, they came to save the 'heathens' from hell... and get rich. "The war created a vortex of fear and hatred that led to greater violence and brutality on both sides" said historian Will Bagley.
So, what happened to the Timpanogos?
Simply put it was genocide. Some 70,000 Timpanogos Indians — the aboriginal people of Utah — died from violence, starvation, and disease after Mormon colonists stole their land and destroyed their culture over a 21-year timeframe according to the detailed account Gottfredson learned from Utah's Native Americans.
"What choice were we given? To walk knee deep in the blood of our people, or give up our sacred land and culture and accept white man's ways... it was a matter of what's right... our honor... survival..." said the Timapanogos.
"We took from them almost all their land—the reservations are just a tiny remnant of traditional tribal homelands," Dr. Daniel McCool explained. "We tried to take from them their hunting rights, their fishing rights, the timber on their land. We tried to take from them their water rights. We tried to take from them their culture, their religion, their identity, and perhaps most importantly, we tried to take from them their freedom."
Psychological shock and severe distress spanning more than two decades was for the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Nation far outside their usual range of experience. The senseless deaths of thousands of their men, women and children, by a people who believed in the Doctrine of Discovery that Christians had a divine right to plunder and destroy a vibrant culture whose only crime was being indigenous to the Americas; was indeed a horrifying tragedy that has been forever indelibly etched upon the minds and hearts of their descendants. There has never been any kind of apology and the Timpanogos have been written out of Utah’s history and forgotten.
Christian Monarchs decreed that anyone who did not believe in the God of the Bible, or that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, were deemed "heathens," "infidels" and "savages". Indeed America was founded upon Christian principals; there was no separation of church and state by those who drew their power from Old Testament-inspired Manifest Destiny, saying: "This is the land promised by the Eternal Father to the Faithful, since we are commanded by God in the Holy Scriptures to take it from them, being idolaters, by reason of their idolatry and sin, to put them all to the knife, leaving no living thing save maidens and children, their cities robbed and sacked, their walls and houses leveled to the earth." - Steven T. Newcomb Indigenous Law Institute and author of "Pagans in the Promised Land.
Through it all rode a man named Black Hawk when, in the end, his grave was robbed at Spring Lake and his mortal remains were put on public display in the window of a hardware store for amusement in Spanish Fork, Utah and later was moved to Temple Square in down town Salt Lake City.
Utah's Black Hawk War was the end of a sacred time — a tragedy for the Timpanogos that should be remembered and never forgotten.
Why have I never heard of the Timpanogos?
To those who live in Utah and want an honest perspective of the Black Hawk War these two books are a must read.
In a first-time-ever collaboration with the Timpanogos Nation, Phillip B Gottfredson, Author of the best-seller book "My Journey to Understand Black Hawk's Mission of Peace," shares decades of research from the perspective of the Timpanogos and the First Nations of Utah, a vantage point that has been ignored and absent from Utah's history. Because few people know anything about the Timpanogos culture, who they are, or what they believed in, Gottfredson seeks to educate people about them. (Published by Archway Publishing from Simon & Schuster.)
A companion to Phillip's book, Phillip's great-grandfather Peter Gottfredson lived with the Timpanogos during the Black Hawk War. A long-time favorite of scholars and historians being one of the oldest firsthand accounts of the Utah Indian Wars, "Indian Depredations in Utah" inspired Phillip to pick up the torch for his great-grandfather Peter and follow in his footsteps. (Published by Wheatmark)
"He didn't just write about them. He lived with them. He found the truth."
"In 1989, what began as a mere curiosity into the Black Hawk War led to an extended period of exhaustive research spanning over 20 years" Gottfredson wrote, "It became clear that all accounts were written from the Mormon’s one-sided perspective. Celebrated scholars and award-winning authors who have written about the war never asked or cared what the Native Americans they studied had to say about their work. Nor did they ask them to analyze or interpret their books, or to share their own version of the particular story being told. Consequently, virtually every account about Utah's indigenous peoples is biased and based on assumptions, replete with half-truths, ambiguities, platitudes, and omissions. This is a racially prejudice mind-set I concluded, it is a deliberate attempt to divided us both racially and socially to justify man's inhumanity to man; we can't just ignore the Native Americans side of the story! We can't just lay all blame on the victims and then ignore their side of the story! This must change before there can be truth in education and an honest account of Utah’s history with First Nations. Ignorance is the root of racism. I recall the famous African proverb that says... "Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
"It followed that in 2004, my journey began in earnest when I attended the Grand Opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. I then turned to not just one tribe but all First Nations of Utah to hear their story about the Utah Black Hawk War. It was the most humbling of all experiences in my life."
"My great-grandfather Peter was a friend of Black Hawk and spent much of his youth living in the camps of the Timpanogos during the Utah Indian wars. And like Peter I spent the past 20 years researching and writing about the Utah Black Hawk War while living with the Timpanogos and various Native American tribes throughout North and South America. From the Makaw in Washington to the Mayan in Guatemala."
"After all is said and done about the War and all the suffering it caused, I make this one conclusion: In the end, it’s about the human condition. The message of Indigenous America is connection, relationship, and unity. All people are one. One of the direct living descendants of Creator. Chief Joseph said, “We have no qualms about color. It has no meaning. It doesn't mean anything." And I believe that was Black Hawk’s message when he made his last ride home to pass out of this world. As he was dying from a gunshot wound to his stomach, he spoke to Mormon settlers along the way pleading for peace, an end to the bloodshed."
"Antonga Black Hawk was but a boy who in time became his nations leader believing that love can overcome hate. Hypocritical morality. One who respected himself and appreciated others because we are all human. He understood the natural order that all inhabitants of Mother Earth are connected. He loved unconditionally, and forgave unconditionally, and that being born human makes you superior to nothing. He knew that true freedom meant being in harmony with his fellow man and all that our Creator gave us. He fought to protect the sacred, his people, and human equality. This was Black Hawk's Mission of Peace."
"Oh yes there is much we can learn from Native Americans... if only we would listen. If we would get out of our heads and listen with our hearts. And if you must judge them... do so by their own standards."
So, who are the Timpanogos, and what do they say about THE UTAH BLACK HAWK WAR?